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Notice to Readers: National Child Passenger Safety Week --- September 12--18, 2009

In 2007, a total of 606 children aged <8 years died and approximately 75,000 were treated in emergency departments for occupant injuries sustained in motor-vehicle crashes in the United States (1,2). National Child Passenger Safety Week, September 12--18, 2009, highlights the importance of the correct installation and use of child restraints.

The use of booster seats has been found to reduce the risk for injury by 59% in children aged 4--7 years, compared with use of adult seat belts alone (3). The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and CDC recommend placing infants and children in age-, weight-, and height-appropriate child restraints until they are aged ≥8 years or are 57 inches tall, at which time they can use adult seat belts (4,5). Although no recent data are available on consistent compliance with this recommendation during a specified period, an older study, CDC's Second Injury Control and Risk Survey (ICARIS-2), a national, cross-sectional, random-digit-dial telephone survey conducted July 2001--February 2003, found that 46% of parents of children aged 4--7 years reported their children had used adult seat belts all of the time during the preceding 30 days (6).

Although the use of child restraints is mandatory in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the age at which children can transition to adult safety belts varies by state. Twenty-three states allow children to use adult seat belts by age ≤7 years, with four states allowing adult seat belt use for children at age 5 years and one state allowing adult seat belt use for children aged 4 years (7).

Information about National Child Passenger Safety Week activities and child passenger safety is available from NHTSA at and from CDC at


  1. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) encyclopedia. Available at
  2. CDC. WISQARS nonfatal injury reports. Available at
  3. Durbin DR, Elliott MR, Winston FK. Belt-positioning booster seats and reduction in risk of injury among children in vehicle crashes. JAMA 2003;28:2835--40.
  4. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Child passenger safety. A parent's primer. Available at
  5. CDC. Child passenger safety fact sheet. Available at
  6. CDC. Second injury control and risk survey (ICARIS-2). Available at
  7. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute. Child restraint/belt laws. Available at

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Date last reviewed: 9/9/2009


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Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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